Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Time to Monkey Around!

I will always, and I mean always, remember Christmas with my mom and being a little girl helping her roll balls of dough through some amazingly fragrant cinnamon and sugar mix. Then you got to plop them into a waiting bunt cake pan and sprinkle in some brightly colors candied cherries and wait for it to bake. When it came out, we could barely wait and would sometimes singe our little fingers in eager anticipation of popping the ooey-gooey goodness into our mouths.

Well, thanks to the no dairy lifestyle change, that good old recipe looked to be going right out the Christmas tradition window. Bummed? You betcha!

This year though, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps, looked over the old tried and true recipe, and altered it here and there to make it something I could actually eat again. Now, I am happy to say, it's game on for the good old Monkey Bread recipe. What I am sharing with you is my dairy free recipe with some adjustments that make it far easier for my body to digest and enjoy at the same time. Sorry, but the family recipe is staying under wraps ;)

Have fun with this!!  My oldest and I certainly did. Amazing how much faster these things are to create with some extra little hands wanting to get in on the fun.

What You're Going to Need

1 large glass bowl, 1 large mixing bowl, a clean tea towel, 2 large shallow bowls, a few small bowls, a glass bowl with lid with a 2+ cup capacity, a hand mixer, large spatula, small sauce pan, bunt cake pan, measuring cups, cookie sheet lined with foil, clean counter or flat surface for kneading, cooling rack, and large dish.


2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup very warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil, refined. Unrefined may add a coconut flavor to end result.
1 can coconut milk. Do not sub in with a lite coconut milk. I used the Thai brand. It comes out to 1.5 cups.
1/2 cup (or what is needed to add to coconut milk)  rice or almond milk, make sure it is an unsweeted and unflavored variety.
1tsbp apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp tepid water (Make sure to mix in a small bowl a few minutes before adding into the rest of the ingredients)
7 to 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Sugar Mix
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
7 dashes of  ground nutmeg     
8 dashes of ground cloves
1/2 cup candied or dried dates chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup raisins, brown or golden will work either way


1.Prep your milk by mixing the coconut milk with the almond or rice and the tbsp of apple cider vinegar. Wisk together in a glass bowl, cover with a lid and allow to meld together in the fridge for about an hour. This is replacing buttermilk in the old fashioned recipe so you want that tangy thickness this will become.
2. In a very large bowl, mix yeast, water and sugar; let stand about 5 minutes. I find that metal bowls work really well for a yeast prep and highly recommend you use one if you have it.

3. In a small saucepan melt coconut oil over low heat; add milk mix until it is warmed (105 to 110 degrees F). Make sure to not go hotter or you will kill off the yeast when it comes time to combine, or add onto your wait time in between steps.

4. Add to yeast mixture along with salt, baking soda, ground flax seed mix and 3 cups of the flour.  Mix smooth and then beat for 2 minutes. Get ready to use your hands for the next step. 

5. Work in with your hands 3 1/2- 4 cups of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl Start with 3 and add a half cup as you go.  Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface (use some of the remaining flour) and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, kneading in just enough of the remaining flour to make a smooth, fairly soft, pliable dough.  

I feel the need, the need to knead....

6. Put dough into a coconut oil greased large bowl and turn once to bring greased side up.  

Cover bowl with a damp hot tea towel and let dough rise in a warm place (about 70 to 75 degrees F) for just about 1/2 hours, or until dough is double in size.  (Yeah, it kinda tripled on me so keep an eye on this!)

Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead about 2 minutes then place back into its bowl to keep it contained and within easy reach. 

7. In a wide shallow bowl, mix sugar, and spices together, then in another wide and shallow bowl have the melted coconut oil ready.

I also had my fruits in separate smaller bowls so we could sort of assembly line the process. Worked out so nicely!

 dried cherries

candied dates


8. Butter a 10 inch, 18 cup capacity tube pan.  

I have a pretty fluted bunt pan but the tradition smooth sides works just as well!

Pinch off walnut sized pieces of dough and form into balls.  Roll each ball into the melted oil and then in the sugar-cinnamon mixture.   Arrange a single layer of balls in the bottom of the tube pan. Sprinkle the fruits around the top of this layer.  

Add another layer of dough balls and again sprinkle the dried fruits over this layer.  Pan will be slightly over half full.  Cover and let rise until pan is full (about 30 to 40 minutes).  

Heat oven to 350 .  Place on a foil lined cookie sheet to catch any potential spill over. Bake 45 min-1 hour until golden brown.    
9. Turn bread onto a cooling rack and if it seems very pale, return to pan and bake 15 minutes longer (If top seems brown enough, cover loosely with foil).  Turn out bread onto a rack and cool at least 15 minutes. Transfer to your large dish of choice to display and serve.  Serve warm, letting each person pull off pieces of the bread.

Om, nom, nom to the full extent! 

Hint: If you over baked it and it got dry, you can remedy this with a sugar water spray like what some bakers do to cakes. Just do a little bit at a time though!